The first phase of Bishwa Ijtema, the second largest congregation of the Muslims, has begun today on the bank of the river Turag on the outskirt of the capital.
The first phase of the three-day Ijtema began with 'Aam Bayan' (general sermons) by noted scholars after Fazr prayers that will end with Akheri Munajat (final prayers) on January 14.
Thousands of devotees from home and abroad started to throng the Ijtema ground on the bank of the Turag since Wednesday night to take part in the religious event seeking divine blessings of the Almighty Allah.
The second phase of the Tongi Ijtema will begin on January 19 at the same venue and it is scheduled to end with Akheri Munajat (final prayers) on January 21.
Tablig Jamaat has been organizing the Ijtema at this venue since 1967. However, the Ijtema is held in two phases since 2011 to ease the accommodation problem.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued separate messages greeting the Muslim devotees all over the world on the occasion of the Bishwa Ijtema.
In the messages, the President and the Prime Minister wished all success of the three-day congregation.
Tablig Jamaat's senior leader Md Gias Uddin said devotees from 32 districts of the country are taking part in the two phases of Ijtema while devotees from 16 districts of the country and abroad joined the first phase.
All preparations for the Ijtema, including setting up pendal, stage, floating bridge over Turag river, toilets, have been completed, he said, adding that gas, electricity and water connections were given to the Ijtema ground.
Gazipur City Corporation Mayor Professor MA Manna said the City Corporation, district administration, police, RAB and Ansar and VDP have set up five separate control rooms to monitor the overall activities of the Tongi Ijtema.
The City Corporation erected 13 gates at the entrances of the Ijtema ground to welcome the foreign devotees, he added.
The mayor also said 3.54 lakh gallons of fresh water will be supplied everyday through 18.50 kilometer pipelines from 13 deep tube-wells and 21 trucks will be engaged in removing garbage from the Ijtema ground.
Fire Service and Civil Defense Director (operation and maintenance) Major AKM Shakil Newaz said senior officials of the service were directed to ensure all kinds of fire safety at the Ijtema venue.
An eight-tier security measure has been taken with deployment of 7,000 policemen and about 250 RAB members to avert any untoward incident during the Ijtema, law enforcement agency sources said.
According to the sources, 15 watch towers and 41 close circuit camera televisions have been set up in and around the Ijtema ground alongside deployment of bomb disposal units and dog squads to ensure foolproof security of the Biswa Ijtema.
Fifty medical teams and 14 ambulances will provide health care services to the devotees during the three-day congregation.